The final race of the season for the National Flying Club was flown from Coutances on the 3rd of September and consisted of 1734 young birds entered by 160 members plus 674 Old Birds entered by 80 members. Both national races were liberated together at 12:20pm after yet another very trying day for the Race Adviser Steve White, the weather advisor Steve Appleby and Chief Convoyer Phil Leech. Together they have had to deal with some of the most difficult racing conditions over the season, which is a responsibility they all take very seriously, and I am sure I speak for the whole Committee in thanking them for their contributions. Theirs is a role which can draw some criticisms as the whole country is very rarely enjoying the same conditions, as there will always be some who must battle the wind and weather more than others, but all things considered they have given us an exceptional service, thank you gentlemen. A special thanks must also go to our transport company PJ Logistics for their great service and the Chief Vet David Parsons who has ensured we negotiated the French Border control without any issues at all. It is all settling down nicely now so we can look forward to a full race program from France in 2023, and although the marking stations have been reduced, the Committee will be looking into how we can best resume a normal service in most areas at the next meeting in October. For those members who have yet to apply for their CPH number, please ignore the scaremongering which is sadly being touted on social media and make your decision based on facts, ask if you are unsure of anything and we will point you in the right direction.
The number of birds entered for these last races were down by a large percentage on previous years, which could lead us to think there is a large reluctance to sign up with DEFRA, but upon reflection the young birds have had a terrible season, with record high temperatures early on and the usual young bird viruses which do the rounds once they encounter other birds on the transporter. Both can put a team out of the federation races for a couple of weeks which of course will influence the preparations for their first big national. We have also had large areas of the country in Bird Flu protection zones and those unfortunate members within them could not even exercise their birds let alone race, so it is no surprise most organisations have seen a large drop in birdages and all in all it can be quite disparaging but it reminds me of a quote by Sir Winston Churchill which could also be said of our birds “We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy” rest assured these difficult times will pass.
One fancier who understands this very well is Lee Jackson of Bromley, the overall winner of both the young bird and old bird races.
Lee still races under his late father’s loft name P Jackson & Son and has been preparing his team for many weeks by putting them on the darkness system in March and once training began, he has been liberating them from his fishing boat right behind Nab Tower, just to the right of the Isle of Wight. He showed me video of them being liberated some eight miles offshore, so they can learn to head for the landmark which is far enough away from the island to miss the three pairs of Peregrines which live there. He also races weekly in the Thames North & Eastern Counties Federation whose members are top-class fanciers and has had to up his game in all competition as the individual qualities of the membership is hard to match.
The federation holds any age racing through the young bird season, so all of his old birds are raced until the middle of August when the cocks are stopped with the hens kept on the road with the young birds. Whilst they are on the dark they are trained to 20 miles then the milage increases until they are trained from his boat and he set his stall out for the NFC event by entering 25 young birds and 15 old hens. All the birds are fed the same mixture year round with clean water twice per day and medication to combat stress whenever needed “putting too much pressure on the birds will result in a breakdown, they are athletes and rest is of paramount importance which should not be neglected”
The pigeons are raced on the widowhood/jealousy system and the old hen was really keen as she does not like other hens flirting with her cock and the young bird was sitting 10 days on eggs and was very protective of them so Lee was confident of good race although when they did not come at the time he expected he began to worry as a federation race from Yeovil earlier in the day had been a sticky one. When he saw the old hen swing around the loft and trap immediately he heard the ets clock beep and when he checked it he saw that a young bird had come with her and trapped to the other side of the loft unnoticed, “so happy days, one of each just three seconds apart” and verified to put them both at the top of their respective races although he did expect John Cowlin or one of the other fanciers in Hullbridge to pop up and beat him but as his late father Peter Jackson used to say “you just need that little bit of luck” and on this occasion he got it.
Lee would like to dedicate his double national win to his late father who would have been very happy and proud. The old bird NFC winner has been named “Lady Langham” which is where his daughter got married earlier this year and is a granddaughter of “The Outlaw Cock” 1st Open NFC Fougeres against 6726b which is down from Jos Thoné Sumo lines and her dam is from his to class cock “04” which was 20th Open 7th Sect E NFC Messac 6902b plus many other top positions and is predominantly his old Janssen x Van Loon lines. “Lady Langham” has been lightly raced this year being 1st Club 6th Thames North & Eastern Counties Fed from BLanford against 1611b and 2nd Club 2nd Fed against 1200b beaten by her loft mate.
The young bird National winner has been named “Lady Loo” and is down through his Karl Schellen lines “Bartels” and ”Champion 45” through Jan Huybregts which can hold their own in any competition. “Lady Loo” has had every training toss and three races plus three 70 mile tosses from the boat under full cloud cover. She has been dedicated to his sister who is suffering with advanced Motor Neurones disease and although he was thinking of bringing in some new bloodlines as his pigeons are becoming too close as a family, the double national win has proved that if you put in 100% effort, they will reward you.
“The combination of getting the bird to the starting line fit, healthy and with the right wind on the day for that little bit of luck. Respect to those trying andI'mremember to keep the faith in our wonderful sport.” Lee would like to thank his wife Claire for all her help with the birds when he is out fishing! And congratulate all the section winners in both races on the day.